Australian government slow to respond to supply chain labour exploitation

Rescue workers and volunteers search by hand for victims amongst the debris of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Jeff Holt
Rescue workers and volunteers search by hand for victims amongst the debris of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Jeff Holt

Sunday marks three years since the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. This disaster led to the tragic loss of 1130 lives, left 2500 injured, and sparked a global debate about workers’ rights and ethical labour standards in low-wage countries. In Australia, civil society organisations such as Baptist World Aid and Oxfam lead the charge to expose labour abuses and improve working conditions in global supply chains. But thus far the government has been largely absent form this debate and has been slow to act.

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The 2022 World Cup Tarnished by Labour Exploitation in Qatar

A recent report by Amnesty International details evidence of the systematic exploitation of migrant  workers building facilities for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The amount of workers is expected to grow ten-fold to around 36,000 in the coming two years. An earlier report by the International Trade Union Confederation says 1,200 migrant workers from India and Nepal have died in Qatar since the country was awarded the 2022 World Cup, and it estimates that 4,000 migrant workers will die by the time the first game is played in 2022. The Qatar 2022 organising committee has appointed Impactt to provide oversight and monitor workers’ rights on the back of a damning report by Amnesty International. Catalyst Australia researcher spoke to on about labour standards in Qatar

Best and Worst Companies for Women on Boards Revealed

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Medibank Private, Mirvac Group, DUET Group, Spark Infrastructure and Woolworths are among the top ASX 100 companies for appointing women to boards, a new report says.

Some of the worst in the same index include TPG Telecom and Qube Holdings, with no female board members. Westfield had one woman on its board out of 12 spots and Oil Search has one out of nine, the Catalyst think tank report released on Tuesday shows.

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Companies Prefer Ticking Boxes to Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Research shows when there are three women on a board, as opposed to one, they are seen as individuals rather than the “female voice”. Image: Shutterstock
Research shows when there are three women on a board, as opposed to one, they are seen as individuals rather than the “female voice”. Image: Shutterstock

“Empowerment of the world’s women is a global imperative,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the 2016 World Economic Forum. Although the worldwide trend to promote equal opportunities has also impacted Australia, progress in the corporate world is slow and a change in pace is required. Improving disclosures is a good place to start.

In 2010, the ASX Corporate Governance Council made several amendments to its Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. The most prominent change was that companies should publicly disclose the number of female directors, senior managers and total number of women in the workforce, as well as progress against diversity objectives established by the board.

New research by Catalyst Australia finds that ASX50 listed companies – Australia’s largest companies and industry leaders – tick all the gender reporting boxes. But while some progress is made concerning women on boards, facilitating the career advancement of women into executive positions remains a problem area.

Likewise, while ASX50 companies do refer to pay equity, our research finds their disclosures are limited and often do not include figures for management or the workforce.

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A Critical Analysis of Sustainable Finance

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This paper seeks to assess how the international banking community is building sustainability into corporate strategies; how effectively these strategies are being implemented; how sustainability is being embedded into key business processes and decisions; and how sustainability principles are reflected in reporting. It presents an assessment of the sustainability performance of banks using a range of frequently used indicators, while also scrutinizing the indicators by examining the extent to which they effectively measure the performance and commitments of banks. While many banks achieve high scores on these indicators, there is evidence that there are significant flaws which are not adequately addressed.

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Abusing Innovation

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Innovation and entrepreneurship are very much the flavour of the month. Widely regarded as instrumental in the next wave of economic growth, determining the ultimate recipe for innovation and entrepreneurial success is by many considered to be the holy grail. Indeed, we are all being encouraged to become like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and other hero entrepreneurs that somehow went from eating macaroni and cheese in a garage or a campus dorm room every night, to becoming obscenely rich by inventing new things we now obsessively use or log into every day.

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